Friday, February 20, 2015

About Miss Trudy

After her husband passed away, I was lucky enough to inherit my neighbor, Miss Trudy. An elderly lady with no relatives, Miss Trudy now lived on her own, scooting around on crutches through her Craftsman bungalow. She had bad knees that would sometimes give out and couldn’t support her weight going up and down stairs. When she left the house, it had to be in a wheelchair.

It had been years since Miss Trudy could drive, so I volunteered to take her to her appointments. Once a week or so, I would let myself in to the back door of her place and call out her name until she answered back. I would help her get dressed, and check to make sure she had all of her essentials tucked into one of the Christmas gift bags she liked to use as a purse.

Miss Trudy would walk slowly down the backdoor ramp to my station wagon sitting in her driveway. I got very good at heaving her wheelchair into the back of the car and slamming the rear door down quickly before the chair could slip back out. She would ease into the passenger seat, and off we’d go, as she said, “like a turd of herdles.”

Her mind was still sharp. A former scientist, she was a quick thinker. Her brain was being betrayed by her broken down body and myriad medical issues. We drove all over the valley going to doctor’s appointments and shopping missions and we talked. Even after knowing Miss Trudy for a couple of years she would still surprise me with sentences that started with, “Back when I lived in Alaska…” or “That time I was at a conference in Helsinki…” Before she met her husband, she had purchased the house she still lived in. A young, unmarried woman buying a house on her own in the 1960s was out of the norm, but she was special like that.

She watched General Hospital every day in her big chair. She gave me updates about the goings on of the characters of Port Charles. “That guy is the other fella’s boyfriend. They’re having a big discussion about whether or not to have a threesome.”

She spent holidays at our place as an honorary member of the family. We eventually moved off of Miss Trudy’s street, a few blocks away to a new house, but we kept up our routines as she became less and less mobile. She had the papers drawn up to make me her durable power of attorney for health care. 

Late one night our phone rang. It was Miss Trudy. Her knees had both given out and she had fallen. She had crawled to the phone to call us. We called 911 and went to her house. She had fallen backward and hit her head. When the guys from the fire department showed up, she complained about what bad timing it was that she was looking like such a mess with all of the cute men in her house.

I rode with her in the ambulance to the hospital. She was lucky to have no serious injuries but if she went home, it would just be a matter of time before she fell again and the narrow hallways in her hundred-year-old home would not accommodate a wheelchair. She was sent to a rehab facility for observation and physical therapy. She was now too nervous to walk on her own with the crutches or a walker. She stayed in bed all day except when the PT took her down the hall to work with small hand weights. 

Miss Trudy hated the rehab. She developed bed sores and a staph infection. She would not be allowed to leave until she had healed. Her mind started slipping. Sometimes I would ask her a question and she would just repeat whatever had just been said on the TV. She would call in the middle of the night and ask me to take her home. She stopped eating. I explained to her that if she didn’t start eating, we would think she was giving up. She complained of having nowhere to go and nothing to look forward to. I was worried about how many days she had left.

I started touring assisted living facilities. I fell in love with the first one I saw. It had music playing and a dog walking around. There were high school kids there playing cards with some of the residents. It was bright and didn’t have “that smell.” I liked the idea that if she moved here, she wouldn’t have to be alone all the time anymore. She could have more company than me and General Hospital.

Staying in the rehab, she was becoming frail. She barely spoke above a whisper. I told her about the place I had found for her. I explained about the dog and the nice gardens, the games and the movie nights. She knew she couldn’t go home, but she was wary about moving anywhere else. I urged the rehab to release her as soon as possible. 

At last, she had healed enough to leave. We had moved some of her things from the house into her apartment, including her big chair. She required a medical transport to bring her to her new home. As she was wheeled into the lobby, she looked around taking it all in. They brought her up the elevator to her room, a plaque with her name engraved on it was already on the door. With the help of two medical assistants she eased into the big chair. “Well all right,” she whispered to me, “tell me again about the gardens.”

This post is a part of 1,000 Speak for Compassion, Speaking for Good on February 20, 2015


  1. You. Extraordinary you. You are one of those seraphim zipped up in human suits that you once spoke of so beautifully. I just love this--the writing and especially the heart and actions behind it.

  2. Lovely, lovely post. What a nice way to start my day.

  3. Lovely and sad.
    Is she still with us?

    1. She is! And doing great in the new place. xo

  4. Beautiful. And I'm happy to hear she's still in that chair watching "General Hospital."

  5. Sweet. I hope you will still be able to visit regularly. <3

  6. I loved this story so much. Wonderful wonderful! You, her, the words, all of it. Love.

  7. A faint message of hope and a great way to start a weekend for those who have weekends.

  8. I wonder if people have any idea how lucky they are when Smacksy moves into the neighborhood. You're a warrior for the good guys, friend.

  9. You are such an amazing person. Thanks for sharing this story.

  10. Wonderful! You gave Miss Trudy something to live for. May God bless you.

  11. Teary eyed at the beauty that kindness brings into our lives. Thank you, friend.

  12. Loved hearing about Miss Trudy. Reminded me of my grandma.
    My grandma enjoyed her assisted living place, even though she didn't want to partake in their arts, games or the group events. Her friendly neighbors would walk by her room and wave to her daily. She'd wave back, content to siting in her chair watching the news or Judge Judy (her favorite show). Meal times she usually sat with the same group of people. I'd visit her and sit at their table, listening to their stories, asking questions about their families. Grandma had a stroke causing her voice to go very low, and words didn't always come when she wanted, so she didn't speak much, but she enjoyed listening to others. She lived to be 95.
    Thank you for taking care of Miss Judy. You're a gem.

  13. Thanks for sharing about your grandma, Sandra. xoxo

  14. Oh, wow. It sounds like you two were meant to be. xo

  15. This brought tears to my eyes, too, Lisa. Bless you.

  16. This is beautiful, Lisa, and you are an amazing, inspirational person. Thanks for putting this - and yourself - out into the world.


  17. Oh my goodness, this brought me to tears. What a lovely story, and what lovely, inspiring women, the both of you. Thanks so much for sharing.


  18. This is the most beautiful thing I've read in a long time. I just kept thinking how lucky so many people are because of you. How lucky Miss Trudy is to have you to take care of her. How lucky Bob is to have you as a mom and set a wonderful example of taking care of people. How lucky we are to have you share these stories.